President Proclaims “National Sanctity of Human Life Day” Undercuts Women’s Lives

Pledging that his administration “will continue to honor our country’s founding ideals of equal dignity and equal rights,” President Bush on Tuesday proclaimed Sunday, January 19, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. Using the declaration as a platform for espousing his anti-abortion rights beliefs, Bush called “unborn children” “those without the voice and power to defend their own rights,” according to the Associated Press. In a White House release, Bush urged organizations and individuals to aid those in need, to help create a “culture of hopeÉ and ensure a brighter future for all.”

However, Bush pressed for welfare reform policies yesterday that will do little to “ensure a brighter future for all.” In a White House speech, Bush urged Congress to pass his approach to welfare reform, which includes requiring welfare recipients to work 40 hours a week at a time when the unemployment rate is 6 percent, according to the New York Times. The National Organization for Women issued a statement criticizing Bush’s proposal, pointing out that there has been no increase in spending for the past seven years, despite the fact that the cost of living has gone up. In addition, the harsher work requirements are not supported by a substantial increase in child-care spending. Bush has proposed that $4.8 billion be spent on child care, but NOW argues that this will meet only 15 percent of the need.

Bush has also taken action to restrict access to and information about abortion and birth control. The Bush administration has altered scientific fact sheets naming condom use as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancy and the spread of AIDS and disproving any link between abortion and breast cancer. Bush threatened to back out of a landmark international population policy, forcing a vote at the last minute, which he lost. He has stacked scientific panels to favor his political agenda. Most notably, Bush appointed Dr. W. David Hager, who is adamantly against mifepristone, abortion, and birth control, to a key reproductive health committee of the Food and Drug Administration. Furthermore, he withheld $34 million appropriated by Congress for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), based on inflammatory rhetoric from a right-wing organization that was not even supported by Bush’s own fact-finding team.

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White House release 1/14/03; Associated Press 1/15/03, 1/14/03; Kaisernetwork.org 1/15/03; New York Times 1/14/03; NOW 1/15/03

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